American debt by age group


Americans’ total debt hit $13 trillion last year – the highest it’s ever been. Between education loans, vehicle loans, credit card debt, and more, Americans are financing and thus incurring debts now more than ever.

You may be surprised at which age groups are carrying the most debt.

Distribution of debt

Here’s how much debt the average American has now, by age group.

35 years and under: $67,400
35 to 44: $133,100
45 to 54: $134,600
55 to 64: $108,300
65 to 74: $66,000
75 years and up: $34,500

As you can see, Americans aged 45 to 54 are carrying the most debt today, on average. The group aged 35 to 44 isn’t too far behind them, too. But why?

Behind the breakdown

“The trend tends to follow when people have children and those kids’ needs,” said John R. Salter, professor of financial planning at Texas Tech University. “We see that rise in debt at the time most people are looking for bigger homes to get more space for their family, buying cars for their children, or paying college tuition for them.”

Interestingly, the two age groups of 35 years and younger and those aged 65 to 74 have similar average debt. While these groups have vast differences, their debt range is so similar because they are right outside the peak wage-earning years.

American comfortability with debt

It seems Americans are far more comfortable with their debt now than ever.

“This idea of saving for what you need and buying it outright has diminished as people have become more comfortable with financing,” Salter said.

Something to keep in mind for all of us, regardless of our age, is that we are still taking a risk with financing. Banking that you’ll be able to pay in the future is convenient, but is it sustainable?